It doesn’t do to think too much on New Year’s Eve. As I have recalled too late. Only yesterday I was pondering lighthearted easy wins for my new year’s resolution – eat less biscuits, do a doodle a day, dry January… but before I knew it I was wallowing in a soup of regret, with bits of last week’s turkey floating by like forlorn icebergs.
………WARNING : If you don’t want to wallow in my self-indulgent soup, turn away now and proceed with your Hogmanay booze fest…….
The truth is, in the Covid era we have set ourselves small, bitesize daily targets : survive today, walk the dog, take whatever work is available because it needs doing and you never know what might happen next month, eat less biscuits tomorrow, actually – eat more biscuits because life is too short… to my surprise I’ve maintained my tweet diary of lockdown for 292 days so far, because it’s given me a sense of rhythm, of perspective – of comfort even. Much like the soothing powers of a well managed to do list – it can give an illusion of control and of order, and of the productive passing of time. I didn’t plan it that way, but it has become a comforting habit.
The focus for many of us this year has been on the small things, and it’s perhaps only now that I’ve looked up and remembered the bigger arc. The diary feels a little more like groundhog day every time I make an entry. Treading water. We don’t even feel any further forward in the arc of this wretched disease.
We have become habituated to blaming Covid for all our failures, and missed deadlines and goals in 2020. Our worlds and our focus have shrunk. Indeed I have found it all too easy to avoid thinking about the one, modest, professional target I set myself at the start of 2020, until the year is about to close shut, with that goal not even approached. Covid isn’t really an excuse. I just didn’t do it. I can say I didn’t have the opportunity due to covid, but… Ah well. There is always next year. But I said that last year and the year before…The truth is there is a bit of me that is ambitious. Not for status or more income. It’s more a craving for feedback, something there is precious little of in this job. Am I doing ok? Could I do better? Would anybody even tell me if I was awful at it? A thank you from a client is rare (though lovely when it comes), and often our clients are (frankly) not the best judge of our skills, any more than the outcome of the case is a reflection of our talent or lack of it. I was already in the dumps when I sat down to complete my CPD record for 2020 but I felt worse for doing it – damn the template writers for incorporating emotionally hazardous questions about what my goals for 2021 should be. Truth is I don’t know what they are at all. In the bigger bigger picture of course professional triumphs and job satisfaction pale into insignificance against the life and death backdrop that covid brings, but I suppose I’m realising that all of this stuff somehow matters at the same time. And I don’t think I’m ever going to be ready to take a deep breath and treat it as ‘just a job’. I love it and I want to be the best I can at doing it. When you have spent the best part of a year talking to heads on a screen the opportunity for human feedback is even more slender. I miss my work friends.
So yes, New Year’s Eve has taken me by surprise a little. It has shaken me from my comfortable reverie of repetition and remote working. I have crocheted 279 hexagons towards my covid blanket in 2020. It has kept me sane, but will it sustain me through 2021? Truthfully, I think my broader wellbeing will demand more than the satisfaction of completing a blanket – wellbeing is about more than managing the day to day pressures of too much work, and work of an unpleasant nature – overall life satisfaction is a part of it too. I need to find some way to revitalise my professional confidence and enthusiasm, whilst also surviving the day to day and retaining the renewed appreciation of the little things, and the people in my life, that covid has brought me.
So. Here are my goals. I’m not going to call them resolutions, for I’m not truly resolved – I might break them. They are aspirational, suck it and see plans for starting out on a new year. Goodness only knows, making fixed plans for anything seems foolhardy these days :
- do a doodle every day – post it in the twitter diary, however bad it is.
- revive my professional life (working on how – the big unanswered goal for 2021)
- keep safe, hug my family more (the ones I’m allowed to hug)
- be kinder – at work, at home and on twitter
- do dry January, ban biscuits, run more regularly
- finish the bloody blanket
I wish you all a Happy New Year, and a safe and contented 2021.